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UK weather: Hottest day of the year so far to be topped by sizzling Sunday

Most of Britain is enjoying summery weather but it won't last

Much of England has been basking in balmy sunshine today and the weather is set to get even better on Sunday.

Thousands of people flocked to the beach and into the countryside to make the most of the hottest day of the year so far.

The mercury rose to 23.9°C in Santon Downham in Suffolk, beating yesterday's high of 23.7°C recorded at Pershore College in Worcestershire.

Temperatures across the Midlands and south-east England reached 22°C - hotter than Barcelona - and other areas were in the high teens.

Heathrow, in London, and Doncaster were among the hotspots, while Hetton in North Yorkshire was shivering in lows of 7°C.

Parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland were less lucky and with cool temperatures and torrential rain.

A Met Office spokesman said: “It's been a story of two halves. England and Wales have been warm and dry but Scotland and Northern Ireland have seen rain.

“It's likely to be a similar picture tomorrow and it could possibly reach 25°C in the South East.”

After a warm and mostly dry night, the sun will come out early and last for nearly all the day.

The only exceptions will be parts of western Scotland and Northern Ireland, where the rain will persist in cool, breezy conditions.

It will be warmer than Saturday in most parts, edging towards the mid-twenties in the Midlands and South East.

Bookmakers have slashed their odds to just 4/7 that it will reach 26°C and Ladbrokes is already offering odds of 8/1 on May becoming the hottest on record.

The weather is expected to become more unsettled next week, with stormy showers of rain for the whole country.

Additional reporting by PA